The thought of losing your hearing can be scary. However, knowing the different types of hearing loss, symptoms, and treatments can help you address the situation more effectively. Proper treatment and timely identification can help prevent the ailment from worsening.
If you fear that you might be experiencing hearing loss, visit a doctor immediately. You can also take a free online hearing test on Helix Hearing Care to assess your situation.
Conductive Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss occurs due to issues in a person’s eardrum, ear canal, middle ear, or the tiny bones in the ear. These bones include stapes, incus, and malleus.
- Hearing muffled sounds
- Inability to hear sounds with lower frequencies
- Gradual loss of hearing
- Discharge or fluid drainage from the ears
- Ears might feel stuffed or full
- Malformed outer or middle ear and ear canal
- Fluid retention in the middle ear caused due to flu
- Otitis media (ear infection) causes retention of fluid which disrupts the movement of the eardrum and ossicles
- Allergic reactions
- Malfunctioning eustachian tube
- Perforated or damaged eardrum
- Foreign objects or impacted earwax in the ear
- Ear infections
- Otosclerosis causes the small ear bone in the middle to calcify
Often, doctors recommend surgery to treat conductive hearing loss. These are mainly recommended when the patient’s ear canal is blocked at birth. Malformations, malfunction of middle ear parts, otosclerosis, tumors, and other problems caused due to head trauma may also require surgery.
Other treatments include a hearing aid to promote bone conduction or implantation of an osseointegrated device. Antibiotics and antifungal medicines are often prescribed to treat ear infections and fluid blockages.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs due to nerve damage or issues in the inner ear canal.
- The patient cannot hear correctly if there is background noise present
- Difficulty in focusing on high-frequency voices such as those of women and children
- Dizziness or imbalance
- Speech sounds muffled
- Tinnitus or ringing of the ears
- Constant exposure to loud noises
- Old age
- Head injury or trauma
- Viral infections or disease
- Genes or malformed inner ear
- Ménière’s disease
- Tumors or autoimmune diseases
Sensorineural hearing loss is a severe condition that is usually treated with corticosteroids. This medication helps reduce inflamed and swollen cochlear hair cells triggered by exposure to loud noises.
Changes in air pressure, head trauma, inner ear rupture, autoimmune diseases, or other infections may also lead to hearing loss. In such cases, surgery may be required, and other drugs may be administered.
Ménière’s disease, vertigo, or tinnitus are some other conditions that can lead to hearing loss. These are treated by reducing sodium consumption and adding diuretics and corticosteroid medications to the diet.
Hearing loss caused by conditions such as sclerosis or those that affect nerves in the body can be treated by curing the disease in question. Hearing aids or cochlear implants may be required to improve hearing.
Mixed Hearing Loss
This condition is a combination of both of the above types. It arises from damage caused to both the middle and inner ear parts. Some people may predominantly show one symptom more than the other.
Most ENTs or audiologists will always try to treat the conductive part first. Frequently, the treatment of the conductive part helps the person hear better. These patients can then be further treated for the sensorineural component. For example, the inability to hear high frequencies can then be fixed using an audiogram. If possible, the patient may still require medicines, surgery, or implants to heal and recover.
Identifying the kind of hearing loss a person is experiencing is crucial to applying the proper treatment to obtain effective results. You should always get regular ear checkups and consult your doctor immediately, even if you are slightly suspicious of being unable to hear clearly.